After a pretty roast dinner with a few ales I felt so bloated and tired as Gaz picked me up from my parents’ house for our New Year’s Day game against Manchester United. Collecting Ste on route, we joined quite a posse of Evertonians in Gary, Dan, Alfie, Sue and her extended family for a few drinks in the pub pre-game. Sadly with the mystifying team news and Liverpool pipping Burnley at the death, we should have suspected a defeat against Manchester United. I actually fancied us to win somehow, that we, following a few poor performances would turn on the style under the lights at Goodison Park against a depleted Manchester United. This was too much to ask of course.
As we walked on to the pub the wind and rain really set in and we were grateful to get into the shelter of Goodison Park in time for kick off. Manchester United supporters backed their team as noisily as ever. Goodison Park was somewhat flatter than I expected but the lack of intensity in our play accompanies this. Press, harry and get into teams and the Goodison crowd get behind you. Everton sat too deep for large sections of the game and it often felt like Tom Davies was performing something of a one-man press when we had opportunities to bring the play up the pitch.
We had a few scrappy openings in the first half and forced a few corners but with Gylfi Sigurdsson rested, the delivery was never quite right and these were easily rebuffed by Manchester United’s defence. Though nothing clear cut was created by Manchester United, they did break threateningly in the first half with only the final ball lacking at times. Come the break, though second best, we were level, and hopeful of an improved second period.
This never came as Manchester United really got on with the second half like they meant business and we never got out of the blocks. Juan Mata had already been thwarted twice, once by Jordan Pickford, and another time by the post with a speculative effort, before Anthony Martial picked his spot with a fine finish from outside the penalty area. It was thoroughly deserved from the visitors and Everton had their work cut out.
Wayne Rooney and more particularly, Yannick Bolasie, were spent on the hour and were replaced by James McCarthy and Aaron Lennon as Everton sought a way back into the game. Losing Wayne, and without another calm head on the field (I.e. Gylfi Sigurdsson), affected our play and we struggled to find a way to break down Manchester United but credit to the players, for about a 10 minute spell we did rally and you felt we needed to score in this period to get back on level terms, the best chance coming and going when Oumar Niasse headed wide from a Mason Holgate header. It wasn’t an easy chance for Oumar and he was a little unlucky. Otherwise we had the ball in the penalty area often enough but just couldn’t quite work the opportunity to get the shot away. On the counter attack Jordan Pickford twice kept us in the game with a good save from Paul Pogbl, and a superb one from Jesse Lingard.
At 1-0 you always have a chance of course and Manchestrer United had quietened us down after our little flurry of attacking. We were now having much less of the ball and with Dominic Calvert-Lewin ready to come on we won a throw in, and a chance to get the substitution made. Unfortunately we took the throw too quick, quickly giving the ball away and on broke Jesse Lingard who ran at us and finished superbly with Jordan Pickford no chance. He’s improved vastly that Jesse Lingard and now looks a very good player. We then made our substitution. 10 minutes left on the clock and we bring off a striker for another one. The locals weren’t happy, and let Sam Allardyce know it.
We were beaten by now and couldn’t offer much other than a late Michael Keane header which he may have done better with. At full time you trudged away with no complaints of the result. We were truly second best throughout.
The inquest? Just for the sake of a quick rant, I think things will never change with the ‘big’ clubs coming here and getting things their way. While I’ve no complaints with the Wayne Rooney and Mason Holgate yellow cards, the same should haver been distributed for similar challenges by Manchester United players but predictably enough nothing was done. It feels like an inequality every season. Though that’s not why we lost of course.
There’s never any shame in losing 0-2 to Manchester United. They have a vast pedigree of success and our lead by one of the world’s best manager’s. They have huge resources and are clearly head and shoulders better than us. No shame in the scoreline. What I find more difficult to stomach is, seemingly as I’ve no idea what was said pre-game of course, going up against them at home just to contain. I don’t expect us to go all guns blazing, but get up the pitch, get into them, press them and make it difficult for them. This gets the crowd off their seat, boosts our players and worried theirs (David Moyes was always good at instilling this at home). It’s not rocket science. We sat back way too deep and invited Manchester United onto us, and with no plan other than giving it to half-fit Yannick Bolasie, we were far too easy for Manchester United to defend against us. I don’t really blame the players for this. I felt they tried, but I have issue with the tactics employed.
It was only when James McCarthy was introduced as we chased the game were we finally getting into them, making tackles and forcing mistakes. They were rattled at that point. It’s a shame we didn’t do more of it. While Big Sam basked in the glory of his early impact, in our last four games our stats read:
Goals scored: 1
Goals conceded: 4
Shots on target: 3
It isn’t good enough, especially against the two relegation-threatened teams. I am grateful for the league position we are in compared with late-November. Relegation is not a threat, but surely the plan has to be to attack better than that? The above stats are not pretty reading for any team.
Seven changes was a lot to make, and I get the reasons why at this time of year. I do think that Sam rested players against Manchester United as he sees Friday evening’s match at Anfield as more important. He would be right with that judgement. I hope he judges it right on Friday, otherwise it’s season over in the first week of January.
Pickford: I’d like to see the goals again to see how much, if any, blame should be apportioned to Jordan for the two goals as they were both from distance, but my gut is that he was beaten more by good strikes than poor goalkeeping, and his second half save from Jesse Lingard in particular was top drawer. 7
Martina: I thought he did quite well defensively and showed good willing further up the pitch but a right back at left back can only influence the gamer so much. As usual for me, did his best but found lacking out of position. 6
Williams: Not bad, some good interceptions and tackles. 6
Keane: In the second half when we were chasing the game he was particularly good and was the pick of the two centre backs for me. 7
Holgate: Presumably Jonjo Kenny was rested for Friday which is why Holgate played at right back. He did OK but square peg round hole springs to mind. Much better off at centre half. 6
Schneiderlin: Battled albeit in vein. 6
Rooney: Did OK in spells but gave the ball away a bit also, though was missed when not on the pitch. Maybe taken off with an eye on Friday. 5
Bolasie: He’s a box of tricks and got down the line to good effect a few times, even if there was nobody in the penalty area to get on the end of one of his crosses. He then tired quickly in the second half and was replaced. He may have been better off being an impact substitute, but maybe Big Sam is thinking of Friday’s game and preserving Aaron Lennon for that. 6
Vlasic: Good in spells though largely anonymous in others. Usually uses the ball well and it was good to see him play. 6
Davies: Not everything he tries works, but he offers intelligence. He has good ability to find space and has a good idea when to press and chase. Why his team mates don’t see this I find baffling. My man of the match. 7
Niasse: Full of effort but that’s more or less it. A touch unlucky with that header. 6
Lennon (for Bolasie): Didn’t really effect the game. 5
McCarthy (for Rooney): Was key in our efforts to get back into the game as we finally then got stuck into them. May come in handy on Friday night. 7
Calvert-Lewin (for Niasse): Had a bit of a go and showed some nice touches and willing running. A definite starter on Friday. 6
Reader Comments (34)
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1 Posted 01/01/2018 at 22:44:25
I also thought Davies really put in a maximum effort despite what some viewers thought. Martina also tries hard but he just cannot use his left foot. Now that he seems to have got his confidence I would like to see him play at right back. At lest at the present time. Also seeing that Schneiderlin offers nothing going forward I wonder if he could play left back.
I do expect criticism for what may be viewed as ridiculous. However I am just as confused as our new manager and most Evertonians. After seventy years of watching I feel I should be able to have an opinion, or of late, a medal for fortitude. Always "Blue", but lately this is sooooo hard.
2 Posted 02/01/2018 at 02:36:36
Rarely comment on your OPs, but always read them. Keep them coming.
3 Posted 02/01/2018 at 03:53:33
4 Posted 02/01/2018 at 05:08:00
I thought Vlasic played exceptionally well considering his lack of recent activity, and Keane produced his best performance since joining us, marred only by being easily turned by Martial on the play that resulted in Rooney's yellow. Nice to see Davies return to form, and I think Pickford was excellent, and blameless on the goals. I particularly enjoyed watching him lecture Rooney after one of his turnovers resulted in a shot by Martial.
I also agree with your critique of Sam's tactics, but I do believe he picked the best lineup he could, and I'll hold my hand up on his substitutions, because I thought bringing on Macca and Lennon was stupid and negative -- then watched them electrify the team for the next 15 minutes. You don't rate the manager, but I'd give Sam a 6 for this one.
5 Posted 02/01/2018 at 05:52:00
Even though Niasse was poor in first half,a completely different Niasse showed up in second half who won headers and not just won them but directed them really well into spaces but no one was there to take it forward. I didn't expect he had that in him and once Macca came we started playing on deck rather than hoofing and Niasse linked up well to bring full backs into it. He is the only one who had shots towards goal, one in the first half which would have been a goal had Rojo not blocked it and then in the second with the header and only one who looked like scoring yesterday,couple of more chances and he would have scored.I want to see that second half Niasse more.
The two reason we lost yesterday, one was Holgate's ability to deal with Pogba,who was easily putting crosses across the box from the right, which can't be blamed as it is not his natural position and often made forward runs.Big Sam made a big mistake their by making the team sit back and allowing Pogba to take on Holgate. Either he should have brought on Kenny or Lennon for support and the other reason was Schneiderlein. I don't understand why Allardyce is playing him after Unsy ditched him. Even Besic is the better option than him at the moment.
6 Posted 02/01/2018 at 07:48:26
The only plus points I can take from the game are that we got another 60 minutes into Bolasie and 30 or so minutes into McCarthy.
We have very little prospect of an upturn in the coming weeks and I will be a happy man when we hit the 40 point mark.
7 Posted 02/01/2018 at 08:40:45
Play like that Friday night and Liverpool will not make the same mistake twice against us.
I hope to God that Salah and Coutinho are missing because they are going to cut us up and just the sheer gusto with the way Liverpool play the game in general, lets be honest we only got in 1-0 down at HT last month because Mane had an act of greed when he broke clear, it was four red shirts against one blue should have been 2-0 and game up.
Ive never seen a central Everton midfield where I just cant see any great redeeming features.
Over the years weve had tough guys like Carsley, creators like Arteta and Pienaar, goalscorer slime Tim Cahill, handfuls like Fellaini...
But you at this midfield, what does Davies do , what does Schneiderlin do, Gana Gueye hasnt been much better but about the best of a bad bunch.
None of them can shoot, weak in marking men, weak in tackling, not going to win headed duals , none of them are quick and their passing is pretty abysmal.
Rooney has been the only shining light but at his age a decline in form or fitness could only be around the corner .
Sigurdsson has in the main flopped.
You wouldnt back our midfield to ever win a physical battle against any Premier League side, the games at West Brom and Bournemouth have shown that.
8 Posted 02/01/2018 at 09:00:03
9 Posted 02/01/2018 at 10:11:36
10 Posted 02/01/2018 at 10:26:23
11 Posted 02/01/2018 at 10:57:12
This was now game over, yes we huffed and puffed a bit before they got the second but once that went in there was no way back. Watching us at Goodison is a bit like watching a lower league club playing a Premier League club, were every free-kick and corner won is cheered as we know that's our best chance of a goal. I had hoped that the leopard would change his spots and play a more attacking game than in the past. But if we go to West Brom and Bournemouth 2 teams struggling and play 10 men behind the ball then I should expect the same against one of the top 6 at home.
Like everybody else I shudder to think what might happen on Friday and don't hold out anything different for our next away game at Spurs. Has this team that is missing Lukaku, Barry and Barkley but has added a further 5/6 players has disintegrated so much that we have to play in such a negative way. Our shots on target are as rare as hens teeth, yes we are desperate for a striker but he cant do it on his own. We need to be more positive and have players supporting the striker not 25 yards away when he receives the ball
12 Posted 02/01/2018 at 11:22:53
down to one goal then get another bit of luck to equalise or something.
Its a sorry state of affairs and it feels like theres more chance of Shrewsbury shocking West Ham on the televised game on Sunday than us beating Liverpool.
Its been very predictable and boring to be an Evertonian for years now.
13 Posted 02/01/2018 at 11:53:29
In the last two matches we have reverted to the Koeman/Unsworth modus operandi of conceding goals sloppily by giving away easy possession. On Saturday we had Kenny on the halfway line ready to support the attack when McCarthy gave the ball away. Hence there was nobody at the far post to defend the cross from which Fraser scored. Yesterday we had Holgate more often nearer to the opposition corner than his own.
We need to get back to what we had in the unbeaten run: full backs playing first and foremost as defensive players and the strongest available defensive shield in front of the back four or five. Anything else is just asking for trouble given our pitiful use of the ball when we are in possession.
14 Posted 02/01/2018 at 12:17:26
Was it for a foul on a United player, or was it for a foul on the ref? He gave them a free-kick, but with Niasse having just beaten the offside trap, I was fuming at the time.
15 Posted 02/01/2018 at 12:23:10
We need much better players than him if we wish to progress.
16 Posted 02/01/2018 at 12:39:27
Honestly, very few players have earned good marks in most games this season.
Niasse is not what we expect but neither any of the other so-called offensive players are up to snuff.
Yesterday Bolasie did okay for a while and the team played in spurts a little better than they have been doing but even this Man Utd side were in a different class.
New signings have to come quickly.
17 Posted 02/01/2018 at 12:43:01
"Rooney has been our only shining light, but at his age a decline in form or fitness can only be around the corner."
Jim, I'm not trying to be funny but can Rooney really get worse than he is? I'm grateful for his goals but his all-round form hasn't been up to much and last night he must have been relieved when he was substituted.
18 Posted 02/01/2018 at 13:09:26
How on earth do you let THREE forwards leave the club in one summer (Lukaku, Valencia & Kone) and not find a single replacement? Toothless, hopeless and hapless describes this unbalanced pile of shite we currently have to endure. Koeman & Walsh have ruined this club with their ' transfer strategy.'
No doubt others are culpable, but the buck stops with the owner, chairman and CEO. All untouchable. I know one thing, that 8,000 waiting list for season tickets will be down to 7,998 come renewal time.
19 Posted 02/01/2018 at 13:29:46
Yeah, I very much doubt that too. Walsh has his best mate, who he help get the job, in charge now, so there's no excuses for him now.
As for blaming anyone but Koeman for the lack of strikers (and left backs whilst we are at it) I do not get it.
If I hired a manager and made him the 7th highest paid in the world, then I wouldn't be trying to do his job for him. It's best the board stays out of transfer policy, and when the bad run was going on and he was sacked, no doubt the transfer fiasco was one of the things that made him get the sack.
Everything going wrong with the team since the start of the season is Koeman's doing. He's paid the price and let's hope Allardyce can put it right and get us back to 8th or better. It'll take until the summer to fully repair the damage done though.
20 Posted 02/01/2018 at 13:38:28
Rooney is the only player who can see a pass though and the only midfielder who has excelled at scoring goals.
He hasnt got the legs anymore no , you are going to see more messed up passes like the one that started Martials goal yes, but the simple fact is there is nobody doing a better job out there than Rooney at present.
21 Posted 02/01/2018 at 13:52:08
His goals have contributed a lot to our season no doubt, but that apart he is struggling. I wouldn't start him on Friday.
22 Posted 02/01/2018 at 13:56:15
Also, it could just be the occasion got to him. I was chatting to a manc over Christmas and he reckoned Rooney was always crap against us. I pointed out the goals he scored, but he reckoned Rooney always let the big games get to him and rarely performed in them. I would disagree, but he watched them far more than I did.
23 Posted 02/01/2018 at 13:59:29
He also said this: "Walsh, towards the end of last season, went on record and he made it clear that he would not sign a player he had not seen live in action and how 'you just need a few more pieces, then you have a top four side.' Asked about his role, he seized the opportunity to champion his credentials, saying: 'You would have to be daft to think I wasn't brought in for my recruiting talents. I'll spend money as it was my own. I won't waste it.'
Asked about his role, he seized the opportunity to champion his credentials, saying: 'You would have to be daft to think I wasn't brought in for my recruiting talents. I'll spend money as it was my own. I won't waste it.'
24 Posted 02/01/2018 at 14:02:10
I wish he had stayed and gone missing in games for us Steve.
25 Posted 02/01/2018 at 14:02:33
Case in point: Sandro. He is a Walsh signing. Walsh really liked him, but Koeman had to go over and watch him, and his indecision almost cost us the transfer.
Walsh had no say in Klaassen or Sigurdsson.
Allardyce has said something like it will be a joint decision but I think this is due the short-term nature of his contract. Also, it might be as the club intends to pay him off in the summer and so want someone (Walsh) taking a long-term view over transfers.
26 Posted 02/01/2018 at 14:04:37
27 Posted 02/01/2018 at 14:07:16
28 Posted 02/01/2018 at 14:26:53
It clearly defines the role of Walsh & Koeman, pre "shit hit the fan."
29 Posted 02/01/2018 at 14:49:48
30 Posted 02/01/2018 at 16:30:32
Scoring the goals he has is a big bonus to Everton but for me they they are the only real positive, I've watched him all season give the ball away, lose possession too easily, and giving the other team chances to score started as early as the Stoke game when a very poor pass gave them a great chance to equalise and only a great save from Pickford stopped them,the exact same thing happened in the Bournemouth home game, in the WHU game his slackness in defending started the move for their penalty, I could go on and on the goals he has scored a lot of them have come when he has been up front, and if he has to play that is where I would play him he has not lost the power in his shooting, he can do more damage to the opposition up front, he does as much damage to us in midfield.
Hope he scores the winner on Friday Jim. !!!!!
31 Posted 02/01/2018 at 16:38:59
32 Posted 02/01/2018 at 17:05:38
I thought it was a good move bringing on McCarthy. Something to prove with a bit of energy. I hope his fitness can hold up.
I'm not sure there was an effort to be 'negative' in the second half. It looked to me as though the better side went up a couple of gears and were too good for us.
The team needs a spark & presence, the kind that comes from a bit of new quality. And a decent striker. I got the sense Sam was looking at a couple of players yesterday, to see who he wants to keep/move on.
Should be an interesting month, though I'm not expecting more than two in, if that.
33 Posted 02/01/2018 at 20:41:33
Elsewhere on TW it says Moshiri has lent the Club £150 million, in addition to the £90 million he spent buying his shares. Even for a billionaire this is serious money. He wants a stadium too - good, but that date has now slipped. Who wants to sponsor a new stadium for a Championship team?
It looks like money spent on Klaassen and Sandro has been simply wasted, while money spent on Bolasie, Keane, Sigurdsson, Williams and Schneiderlin has been far too much for players who are competent for a lower half team.
Can't see much more money being available for some time, so Sam and team have their work cut out to get to 40 points both this season and next.
34 Posted 03/01/2018 at 00:31:44
In one of the threads, someone mentioned Sam getting a '6' for his managerial skills. Rating the manager each game would be an interesting addition to your reports. Keep them coming.
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